Managed by the EU Publications Office, EUR-Lex is the result of merging the EUR-Lex website with the CELEX database on European law. It provides direct free access to European Union law, treaties, legislation, case-law and legislative proposals. Along with extensive search facilities (including a very advanced option), EUR-Lex features a great amount of integrated data and structured information ranging from the full text of dossiers to newsletters and other official documents retrievable in such formats as html, pdf, tiff. Despite its large size, the whole content is well-organized and fairly divided in several sections and collections. Direct access to the Official Journal of the European Union is also possible with its online editions in pdf format from 1998, while texts prior to this date must be searched in the archives. Completely free and open to the public, this website also features a good series of link pointing to other EU institutions, repositories and resources and its content is regularly updated. Starting from the main page, the website interface is then available in 23 languages, while also the vast majority of documents is available in all EU languages that are/were official on the date of adoption of the document. Under a very professional outline and structure, EUR-Lex offers also several useful options for a successful navigation.
An official repository on European Union law
The official report of proceedings in the UK Parliament
Hansard is a section of the official UK Parliament website, entirely dedicated to the proceedings taking place within the two branches of the Parliament and inside its standing committees. It gathers oral and written speeches, with relative answers, full day-to-day debates, bills and list of committee members dating back to 1988 – all this about each session of legislative activities. Speeches are available only as on-screen text, and can only be saved as such, while bills with related amendments are provided both in html and pdf format. Access is completely free, since neither membership nor subscription is required in order to view, search and download any kind of material. The website architecture is simple but effective: files are divided between the two branches of Parliament, then in databases concerning the daily activity and the various committees activity. Databases are indexed by session: users can access the text of each delivered speech, including any related answers. It is also possible to retrieve detailed information through an efficient search engine, endowed with complex textual and time parameters. Also available is a detailed user guide and several navigational aids.
La Documentation Française
The official French public administration publisher and data bank
La Documentation française (DF) is a public service coordinated by the French government operating since 1945 with interministerial publishing and databank tasks for all public affairs topics. Having started with digitalization in the 70s, the DF website is now able to provide a huge amount of offical records, as well as publications, journal, reports and updated dossiers on the main French and international themes on politics, economics, administration, society and culture. The online catalogue consists till now in more than 10,000 records since 1993. Photo and map archives are also present and accessible for free. The website presents all DF publications, its activities and services, as well as those of related institutions and websites. An entire section is devoted to the public reports (7,500 among public institutions, authorities, courts, administrations dossiers) fully retrievable for free in pdf format by all users. All website sections are freely accessible and well organized so that material location is quite simple. Records and materials are fully and freely available according to their nature and topic, i.e. all dossiers, maps, multimedia interviews, and international notes. Others – mostly books and journals – are instead available only by purchase or subscription. The language used for the website as well as for all material is French.
An updated data bank of French legislature and laws
Since 2002 the French Government created a public service to provide free internet access to legislature and law-related material. Legifrance is an initiative under the Prime Minister Office direct management and it provides the public at large with a wide collection of useful news and information about (mainly) the French legislature and related topics. The documentation service of the Secrétariat général du Gouvernement updates almost daily the juridical material provided in the website, e.g. the section Official Journal which aims at providing users and citizens with laws, decrees, etc. recently published and particularly relevant and daily updated. UE legislative production, European Court of Justice decisions as well as a selection of relevant international documents are also available. All records are retrievable in doc and rft format in their full-text version completely free of charge. Some pages in specific sections are retrievable also in English and Spanish but French is the main language. The Legifrance website is crearly structured although orientation is not easy at first sight. Users can search the website using a very advanced search engine.
National Archives and Records Administration
The United States' National archive collection
One of the largest historical repositories worldwide staging an intensive effort to digitalize its extraordinay collection. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is an independent US Federal agency gathering documents from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government. The AAD is its online catalogue, currently containing 20% of NARA holdings, while the Microfilm Catalog is a database of almost 3,400 publications but most of their roll lists and descriptive pamphlets are not online. Online access to a selection of nearly 50 million historic electronic records on a wide range of topics is also possible. In the Theachers’ Resources section, users can also visit the Digital Classroom Archives and the Presidential Libraries’websites, as well as enter in the Archives Library’s OPAC containing nearly 75,000 bibliographic records. As NARA records digitalization is still in progress, many records are fully available only by purchase or on-site. Parts of the periodicals databases are provided by other services, therefore subscription (public, academic or individual) may be required.
Repository of Australian Parliamentary documents
Parlinfo Web is the online version of Parlinfo, the Austrialian Parliamentary Document Repository, an archive with over one million documents concerning the various activities of the Australian Parliament. Parlinfo Web offers a comprehensive access to databases, speeches, bills, MPs bios and to a vast amount of related official and institutional material, from Senate briefings to weekly summaries and general transcripts. Draft records of the proceedings of the chambers have been recently included. Overall the website content has several layers of information, with a fairly distributed outline and easily accessible pages. Most documents are available as text and html formats, with many pdf files as well. Live broadcasting for both Senate and House of Representatives is also possible (if possessing the needed softwares). Users have fully open access to the whole repository through browsing, search and direct links to the most requested documents. Free access to the various databases and areas is provided through a series of structured options: simple browsing, a step-by-step guide search and several quick links. Several search options are also provided, along with numerous help pages and a faqs section. Navigation is quite intuitive and successful, due to the site’s effective and simple design.
The Amnesty International library
Amnesty International publications and reports
Maintained by the Amnesty International Secretariat in London, the Amnesty International library contains an archive of its publications, including most annual reports, press releases, urgent actions, and country reports. The full-text versions of the documents, published from 1996 to date, are available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic and may be searched through several options: by country, region, sub-region or theme. This online directory contains also a great variety of links to selected human rights related websites around the world, searchable by country or theme. Aiming clearly at a vast audience worldwide, the Amnesty International online library is focused on a simple design structure and an intuitive navigational pattern – also providing users with free of charge access to the whole material.
The National Archives of Australia
A resource collection for the study of Australian society
Aiming at holding on to Australian history, society and people, and spanning almost 200 years, this large collection constitutes a vast and rich resource of official and government-related records. The collection’s main strength is material created since Federation in 1901 by agencies of the Commonwealth government. Also available are holdings of nineteenth-century records and documents of Governors-General, Prime Ministers, along with material related to many other issues involving the federal government. The collection material is impressive. The catalogue describes about 39 million records with hundreds of thousands of new descriptions every year, although limited to official and institutional documents. Most records are textual files, but there are also significant holdings of photographs, posters, maps, architectural drawings, films, playscripts, musical scores and sound recordings. Currently, the online databanks provide access only to a limited amount of the material and mainly consist in reference information. The archive has been recently enriched by an audio recordings section of lectures and talks produced by the National Archives, while the FactSheet area allow users to reach material organized by topics and historical fact or personalities, such as prime ministers etc. Basic searchability is free of charge and more advanced options require a free registration. Easy to navigate and user-friendly, the online database provides a great historical background to the general public.
The US Government Printing Office
An online window upon US Government life
The website of the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) is the digital version of the governmental agencies entrusted with the task of informing American citizens about federal administration’s activity, since 1813. The GPO web-publication activities date back to 1993, when it started gathering, indexing and storing all public official documents produced by the federal administration, also making them available on-line for free. Most of the material goes back to 1994, even if many previous documents are digitized and published. Topics cover virtually all Government’s activity areas, including planning documents, reports, working papers, federal bulletins, bills? history, governmental commissions? members, public presidential speeches. GPO website also acts as a tool to access other federal official archives and is completely free: neither membership nor subscription is needed to view and download the more than 275.000 available files. Data are published in full-text version and downloadable as such, both in pdf high-quality image and text, or in ASCII. Its web architecture presents detailed general downloadable help guides; tips to aid navigation are provided alongside with each searching tool and data retrieval engine.
The US National Security Archive
A repository of non-governmental declassified documents
The National Security Archive (NSA) is simultaneously a research institute on international affairs, a Washington University’s library, an archive of declassified U.S. documents, a law firm based on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and an indexer and publisher of these documents in books, microfiches, and electronic formats. Founded in 1985, over the past decade, the Archive has become the world’s largest – fully and freely available for all users – non-governmental library of declassified documents with some 30 terminals hosting major databases of released documents, authority files of individuals and organizations in international affairs, and FOIA requests filed by Archive staff and outside requesters on international affairs. A section of NSA documents’collections are retrievable online as part of the Digital National Security Archive, a joint project of the NSA and ProQuest Corp., representing a comprehensive collection of primary documents on U.S. foreign and military policy since 1945, with more than 90,000 records, organized in over 37 growing core collections and accessible through subscription. Many links are also provided pointing to other webresources for futher inquiries and researches. Search features and an easy website organization allows for an easy navigation.